Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Baseballs and Violins

There are not many books that can claim the themes of sports, music, history, cultural traditions, and racial prejudice. Illustrator E. B. Lewis' watercolors capture them all in two picture books where baseballs and violins break down barriers of race, creed, and family expectations.

The Bat Boy & His Violin by Gavin Curtis - It is 1948 and Papa manages a team in the Negro National League. Much to Papa's dismay, Reginald would rather play the violin than play baseball. When Papa makes Reginald bat boy of the Dukes, he hopes that his son will come to love the game. After some near disasters with the bats, Reginald picks up his violin. The music is like a salve to the discouraged players and soon, they are scoring runs. It turns out that music and baseball can mix and relationships between fathers and sons can heal.

Across the Alley by Richard Michelson - Opening: "Every night, after Grandpa turns out the light, I count to twenty before I tiptoe out of bed and tug open my shade. Across the alley, I know Willie's doing the same. During the day we don't play together, but at night, when nobody's watching, Willie and I are best friends." Willie's daddy played in the Negro Leagues and he wants his son to follow in his footsteps. Abe's grandpa is teaching him how to play the violin so Abe can follow in his footsteps. Only the boys seem to be more interested in swapping hobbies. At night, between their windows, the boys play catch and pass the violin. What will happen if Grandpa finds out?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mystery Line Monday

Mystery Line Monday

The Game: Every Monday, I'll tweet a quote from a children's book @laura_renauld. (Any children's lit genre is fair game.)

Your missionGuess the Book or Author of origin on Twitter. Click my blog link for the answer! 

July 29, 2013

Mystery Line: Oh, please don't go - we'll eat you up - we love you so! 
Clue: Classic PB

ANSWER: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Author Study: Byrd Baylor

Byrd Baylor lives in the Southwest and often writes of the desert. Her second-person prose poetry speaks to the reader, sharing wisdom, ceremony, and adventure as it connects you to the natural world. Her books are uniquely structured in a voice that is completely accessible, but is also profound and thought-provoking. With texts often paired with Peter Parnall's simple, yet multi-layered illustrations, Baylor shares her insight into the human-nature connection.

Whether used for a lyrical read-aloud or curriculum connections, Baylor's books are a sure thing.

Arizona Public Media - A Visit with Byrd Baylor

A few of my favorites:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

We've Discovered Elephant & Piggie!

A few weeks ago, my boys and I found a lucky parking spot near the frenzied front door of the county book sale. I knew it would be crowded and it would be difficult to browse with my little guys in tow, but I was determined to hit the children's room. I had a half hour until their attention and self-control would start to wear thin so I had to make it count.

Luckily, book boxes were situated on cafeteria tables, so my guys could stand on the bench seats, flipping through books, while I stood behind them doing the same. In 15 minutes, our 4 totes were full and we headed to the floor space in the back to spread, sort, and select. Well, that was my intention. My boys were much more interested in looking through every book we picked out.

Somehow, we made our final selections, including some early readers. They've been enjoying some Henry & Mudge and Mr. Putter & Tabby, so I thought I'd add some variety to our at-home choices.

I am SO happy that a discarded library copy of There Is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems came home with us. Are you familiar with the Elephant & Piggie series? There are a whole bunch of these delightful books to read and re-read and get out of the library again and again. While I've read a number of other books by Mo Willems to my kids (including favorites Knuffle Bunny and Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs), the Elephant & Piggie series somehow passed me by.

Now, I'm determined to get them all out of the library! Even though that means a lot of interlibrary loan requests. They are hysterical! Gerald, the Elephant, is loud, easily alarmed, and a bit impulsive. Piggie, the Pig, is his opposite. She has a silly side and an impishness that is endearing.

The stories are a spectacular blend of art and speech bubbles. Check out this spread from We Are In A Book!:

If you need a laugh, look no further than this book!

Here are the three that we have read (again and again and again... and I don't mind one bit!)

There Is a Bird on Your Head! 

We Are in a Book! 

Should I Share My Ice Cream? 
Now get to the library and head for ER WIL.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mystery Line Monday!

Mystery Line Monday

The Game: Every Monday, I'll tweet a quote from a children's book @laura_renauld. (Any children's lit genre is fair game.)

Your mission: Guess the Book or Author of origin on Twitter. Click my blog link for the answer! 

July 15, 2013

Mystery Line: She skipped me, Jonas thought, stunned.
Clue: MG Newbery Winner

ANSWERThe Giver by Lois Lowry

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Books for Newborns (and their Parents!)

Are you a parent? Do you know someone who is? Then this list is for you!

At baby showers, I love to give books. Baby-themed picture books can shine a spotlight on the parenting experience and give new parents a window through which to glimpse this new chapter in their lives. This list tugs at the heartstrings, speaking to the anticipation of baby's arrival, waxing poetic when baby arrives, and poking fun at the challenges baby brings. Here is a cross-section of my favorite baby-themed books... in chronological order :)

Ma! There's Nothing to Do Here!: A Word from Your Baby-in-Waiting (Barbara Park and Viviana Carofoli) - This tongue-in-cheek imagining of what a baby thinks of the womb is hysterical. And yet, when I was pregnant (and oh so hormonal), it made me cry every time. Cute, funny, poignant, and sweet. The perfect baby shower gift!

The Baby Shower (Eve Bunting and Judy Love) - Eve Bunting's cheerful poem taps into the excitement and anticipation that comes with expecting a baby, and not just for the parents-to-be! If animals threw baby showers, they'd do it just like this!

On the Day You Were Born (Debra Frasier) - This book is a poem in free verse. It is also a science lesson about the world around you. Expanded into detailed notes at the end, Frasier uses natural phenomena, such as migrating animals, gravity, and the orbiting moon, to build her story of celebration.

On the Night You Were Born (Nancy Tillman) - "Because there had never been anyone like you... ever in the world." In rhyming verse, a child's unique self is joyfully honored. The illustrations give the verse a musical quality with music notes scattered throughout the scenes. A child will ask for this one again and again.

Hush, Little Baby (Sylvia Long) - In this beautiful, lyrical update, Sylvia Long moves the text away from pacifying a child with material  gifts to emphasizing an exploration of the world and the parent-child relationship. It is the only version I sing to my kids. LOVE this one.

The Boss Baby (Marla Frazee) - Marla Frazee has got to be one of my favorite illustrators. In a vintage style, she dresses the baby in a suit and tie and proceeds to describe his behavior as a tyrannical boss. "He conducted meetings. Lots and lots and lots of meetings, many in the middle of the night." This book falls under the category It's funny because it's true.

Monday, July 8, 2013

*NEW* Mystery Line Monday

I'm trying something new here on my blog. Now that I have a Twitter handle (@laura_renauld), I thought I'd try connecting my blog and my tweets. Here's my idea:

Mystery Line Monday

I'll pull a quote from a children's book (board books, picture books, MG, YA...) and post it as a tweet on Monday. 

Your mission: Guess the Book or Author of origin on Twitter. Click my blog link for the answer! 

Join in the fun. If this takes off, who knows? Maybe there'll even be prizes in the future :)

July 8, 2013
Mystery Line: Where's Papa going with that ax?
Clue: Classic Kidlit

ANSWERCharlotte's Web by E. B. White. How's that for an opening hook?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Celebrating our Independence

If I had thought ahead, I would have looked up children's books about American history, parades, fireworks, barbecues, and homemade ice cream.

But I didn't think ahead. And I'm on vacation. So... no post this week. I'd love to hear if you found any great Independence Day books for kids.

In the meantime, I have opened a Twitter Account to stay up-to-date with the children's publishing world. If you'd like to follow me there, check out @laura_renauld.

Happy 4th of July!